3 strikes, 4 stars

I have had one of the busier, more fun, jam-packed-fulla-stuff weekends of my life this weekend. I am so thankful for the friends and family I have been given-  they are gifts indeed! They look out for me, make sure I have a great time, and travel to and fro all over the place to make sure I can be a part of things. I only hope I give to them of the joy they fill me with. That kind of happy is for sharing!

Don’t think , because I didn’t post yesterday, that I wasn’t considering a topic. In fact, I have been thinking about it most intently.  This weekend, I engaged in two rather different activities that I have discovered have some interesting similarities. When combined, it is possible that they could successfully eradicate social problems: namely the need for sense of community and a boost in self confidence.

Friday night, I went bowling with some friends. I hadn’t been bowling in ages. I need not tell you that as a natural consequence of this absence, my score was abyssmal for both games. However, the fare was deliciously terrible for me, and the company was good, so there was nothing to complain about.

The next night brought karaoke as part of a foray in to downtown to entertain some visiting friends. I love a good time at karaoke, don’t you? Our group sang an epic version of “Don’t Stop Believing”, and I opted for “The Way I am” (one of my standards) and “Sunday Morning”, both of which were recieved warmly: I was allowed to exit the stage area peaceably and of my own accord rather than via removal by a cane.

I realized after a little basking in the delight of the fun-fest (which continued today with a family lunch after church and a bluegrass jam at night), that the fact that a similar feeling permeated both the bowling night and karaoke was no accident.

Both bowling and karaoke are embodiments of fun. There’s always loud music, impromptu dancing, cheering and applause, and copious amounts of cheap and tasty food and beverage. Either case is like being invited to a birthday party, only to arrive and discover that it is somehow every guest’s birthday, including your own.

But where does this euphoric atmosphere come from? Food and beverage dissipate in time, and the taste driving most of the musical selections made in these places is questionable. I think it’s something deeper.

I noticed that both bowling and karaoke are activities that encourage a very supportive dynamic. You would be hard pressed to hear someone be booed at karaoke, and I haven’t really ever met a cutthroat bowler- at least among those of us who don’t have personalized gear and bowling scholarships.

Who wouldn’t want to be somewhere where everyone cheers for you no matter how good (or not so good) you are? Sounds like a sweet gig to me.

The camaraderie fostered in either place comes from everyone rooting each other on as fellow risk takers. Whether you are rolling a 15-pound ball granny style to try to hit some illusive corner pins, or taking the stage alone to attempt “American Pie”, those around you understand that you are making the decision to put your comfort, your inhibitions, and maybe even your “cool” aside for a few awkward moments. And in neither place will your efforts go unnoticed.

The great thing about the fact that there are two activities so similar in their positive atmospheres is that the comfort levels of everyone are addressed. You don’t have to be a prima donna to enjoy applause if the karaoke stage isn’t for you: you can go try for the ten-pin. Or, for the more adventurous, you can still challenge yourself by braving the lights and the spinning disco ball. There is something for everyone. You can choose your own adventure.

It makes me smile thinking about these parallels. It makes me wonder: if all the world’s a stage, could it be a karaoke stage? If life feels like a dangerous game, is it a little less threatening when you opt for a ten-frame perspective?

  • What if your date high-fived you with a smile after you admitted your phobia of french fries?
  • What if the boardroom or classroom burst into applause at the end of every one of your presentations, even the one where you almost blinded someone with a laser pointer?
  • What if there was always someone there to sing along with you?

Oh, that life could be like bowling night or karaoke a little more of the time.

A regular, bona fide bowling-oke-topia.


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